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Sean Penn: His Life and Times Hardcover – November 22, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1841956237 ISBN-10: 1841956236 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate U.S.; First Edition edition (November 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841956236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841956237
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,693,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like its subject, Kelly's biography of the idiosyncratic Oscar winner pulses with insight. Composed as an oral history, film writer Kelly's book boasts the full participation of the actor, whose volatile relationship with the press initially gained him more fame than his talent. Penn's skills manifested themselves early on: as a 14-year-old extra for a Little House on the Prairie episode, Penn refused to eat lunch because "I thought you should stay with your character in the situation." Featuring commentary from Penn's entire family (including wife Robin Wright Penn but minus his late father, actor/director Leo Penn) and actors like Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper, Kelly's book forges further beyond the usual Hollywood bio by interviewing several men Penn has portrayed in film (such as convicted spy Andrew Daulton Lee, whom Penn played in 1985's The Falcon and the Snowman). "He wants the tough substance," television executive John Sykes says, an observation that may seem obvious in light of Penn's challenging films and his burgeoning political involvement, but that in the context of this book, which also highlights Penn's repeated reluctance to act, deepens the portrait of the actor. Structured chronologically, the book may offer opportunities for Penn's less rapturous fans to skip over certain sections, but the oral history format—so well suited for a subject who engenders countless stories—is perfect here. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"'A fascinating "oral history" of the actor-director, with countless interviews with family, friends and colleagues (Nicholson, Huston, Walken) and the ex-Mr Madonna himself.' Time Out 'A relentlessly entertaining insight to the most talented actor of his generation.' Guardian 'Revealing... comprehensive and impressive... Richard Kelly has done an excellent job.' Sunday Telegraph 'Highly readable... Essential reading for any admirer of the actor but also for those seeking a front-line account of American cinema over the past 25 years.' Herald 'The riveting Sean Penn by Richard Kelly... is a book nobody should miss.' Andrew O'Hagan" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James Sturch on December 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having seen Sean Penn up close in Sam Shepard's The LATE HENRY MOSS, having flown up from San Diego, first-row, watching him and Nolte battle one another, was for me a once-in-a-lifetime experience that started, like the book, in the beginning: Taps, 'Fast Times,' 'Bad Boys'...this book is one long rambling conversation about the art of acting, the art of Penn, and all the details of his life. Integrity is a word that reappears and could be applied to choices this great actor has made, even by going to Iraq to see what was going on over there! We should all be curious enough to question. This is a book about stories, about what movies could have been made, should have been made, about paths crossing, told straight and sober. This is an actor who is getting better and better, more honest, organic, raw even. Just wait 'til 'Richard Nixon' comes your way, let alone the masterful last year's 'Mystic.' If you love this actor, love his performances (my brother's favorite is Kleinfeld in 'Carlito's,' mine: ALL, ok, I thought 'Hurlyburly' is as good as it gets to becoming scarily real). Get this book. If you love acting, and the stories of projects put together, riding on that integrity, staying close to what you believe in, this book on Penn is definitive, told by those real close, told by those who talk now by the great actor whose lineage is from the great ones (the great one who recently passed: Brando). I love this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By billy c bowden on January 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sean Penn seems frightfully young to have his biography in print, however, in terms of career, he is an old Hollywood hand, the proof -- is rather well documented by his contemporaries..Penn has been schlepping in showbiz for decades, with an eclectic/eccentric body of work, he started early and with certain purpose..And acting is overwhelmingly in his genes, his mother Eileen Ryan Penn was once a noteworthy stage queen, is in fact regarded in select theatrical circles as the quintessential Blanche Dubois, over and above even Vivien Leigh..Penn's father Leo was a tireless, trouble-shooting Hollywood television series director, known for the 60's hospital episodics like "Ben Casey," and "Doctor Kildare"..And Leo was the victim of an unfounded HUAC blacklist, that froze his career like a nuclear winter, having once been peripherally named as a Pinko sympathizer by a "friend"..In actuality, Leo was a decorated veteran, a tailgunner, having flown three dozen successful bomber missions during WWII..Ironic?..Most people don't know Eileen was both Irish, and Italian, and Leo was a non-practicing Russian Jew..You began to appreciate why Sean is naturally versatile..And Sean grew up in a Hollywood/Malibu household that supported the brothers in all their endeavors and passions, but don't wrongfully assume Sean was the benefactor of orchestrated nepotism, as Leo's kid..Sean studied his craft for years behind his parent's back, toiling in LA workshops, and relocated to a cockroach infested flat in New York to more seriously refine his skills..Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Sean Penn: His Life And Times - The Authorized Biography by journalist Richard T. Kelly is a fascinating biographical survey and "window" into the career and personal life of the accomplished actor and director Sean Penn. Exclusively documented and informatively written, Sean Penn: His Life And Times explores many interesting intricacies of the friendships, career moves, family and landmarks of Sean Penn's life, including interviews from his colleagues and friends Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Woody Allen, Susan Sarandon, Bono, Christopher Walken, Angelica Huston, and many more recognized and praised individuals. Very highly recommended reading for all Sean Penn fans, as well as Hollywood film buffs interested in behind-the-scenes realities of the Hollywood film industry. Sean Penn.
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